Dyeing your pet is an aesthetic choice that experts are debating. Some people believe it harms their dog’s health. While others think the risks are worth taking. Dyeing pets can come with some risk. Research hasn’t been done to determine if artificial colouring affects animals’ health negatively. That brings us to the next question, “Can I dye my dog fur?”
It’s no secret we humans love our animals like family members. Do you think dyeing our dogs will make them feel even more special? I will arm you with all the relevant information and hopefully, it will help make up your mind.
Dog’s fur vs human’s hair
Before you decide to use dye on your dog’s hair, let us do a quick comparison. Canine fur is made up of the protein keratin like a human. The fur grows from follicles in the inner layer of the skin called the dermis. A dog’s hair grows in bundles while a human is a solitary hair.
Human hair grows continuously but for dogs, they grow in cycles. A dogs hair will grow to a certain length, stops growing and dies. This length depends very much on the dog’s genetic makeup.
A dog’s dermal skin is made up of two glands that can produce fluids. The Apocrine glands produce sweat in humans but in dogs, they have 2 other functions. The first one is they help seal the outer layer of the epidermis. The next function is it secretes pheromones which give dogs their unique smell.
The dog’s pad of its paw is the Eccrine glands. This gland produces a watery secretion similar to human’s perspiration. When a dog gets stress or uneasy, it leaves a damp pawprint that is produced by the same Eccrine glands. For an in-depth study of dogs, fur/hair go to Animal Diversity Web.
Why people dye their dog’s fur?
Dyeing your dog’s fur is a great way to celebrate special occasions with them. You match outfits or commemorate events like the dog graduating from obedience school. You can also do it for birthdays, Halloween and St. Patrick’s.
Dyeing your pet’s fur is not that different from dyeing human hair. You can use food colouring, which is easy to find in any grocery store or supermarket. Alternatively, you can buy dog fur dyes from a professional salon, online or at many retailers.
Let’s explore the negative aspects
There are many reasons why it is not a good idea to dye your dog’s hair. Here are 5 main reasons that you should be aware of before doing any permanent damage to their health and psyche in the process.
1.Chemical hair dyes are for humans
If dogs have human-like hair, then they can use regular products like shampoo, gel for styling and hair dye. Unknowingly pet lovers are using chemical dyes that contain ammonia, hydrogen peroxide etc.
Such dyes are known to cause skin rashes and other issues in human. You can check out my post on the dangers of using chemical hair dyes on your scalp.
Just imagine, dyeing human’s hair covers only the area of the scalp. But for a dog, it is the whole body, which is a wider area to cover. Worst of all, if you are not using dyes formulated for animals, toxic chemicals can end up absorbing into their skin instead of staying on top where it is needed.
What happens when a dog ingests the chemical dye? There is every possibility it may cause vomiting, diarrhoea or even skin rash.
Dog owners are still ignoring all the warning signs. That is why animal groups like PETA or People for Ethical Treatment of Animals have been advocating for years to stop colouring dog’s fur.
2.Other health risks?
One of the best ways you can ensure your furry friend remains safe is to check and ensure all the products used like shampoo, food, dyes etc do not contain any synthetics, chemicals or preservatives. Such products are for humans and are not formulated for animals.
3.Dogs and water
People who’ve dyed their hair know that the process requires a lot of water. It is the same when removing dye from a dog’s fur. You use lots of water!
Like humans, dogs can accumulate water in their ears that could cause painful complications. Your dog’s ear is configured differently than humans. They have an L-shaped canal that easily traps water. It becomes more susceptible to bacteria or yeast growth with each passing minute if left untreated.
4.The psychological impact
Dogs are sentient beings, not playthings. When a pet owner dyes their dog they’re doing it for themselves and not the satisfaction of their pup. Let’s remember these distinctions and value your canine companion’s opinions even if they can’t voice themself!
If the dye is safe to use there is a good chance the dog may smell differently from other dogs. They need to be able to smell other dogs odours rather than a layered smell. In the canine world, the most important out of the 5 senses is smell. Also, your dog’s appearance will look odd to other dogs. If only dogs could talk!
According to veterinarians, dogs get stressed when they get groomed. Imagine a dog being dyed. It will cause them more stressed. This may result in a dog losing its appetite, be more aggressive, develop diarrhoea and constipation. A stressed dog is not a happy dog!
5.Is it legal in your country?
Dyeing dogs fur is popular in London, Tokyo and New York. However not so in other cities in Europe. Depending on where you live, it may be illegal to dye your dog’s fur.
If you must…
If you must dye your dog’s fur, then make sure what you use is 100 per cent safe. Just remember before trying any dye, do a patch test on your dog. If you are unsure, check my post on Patch Test, it will explain the procedure which is similar for animals. Here are some of the safe options recommended by dog owners.
Most dog owners recommend natural food colouring as one of the safest options. You basically can mix it with water and spray it onto the fur as a temporary dye. Apply a dog’s eye ointment like an ophthalmic ointment for protection. Check for bruises before applying the dye. Beets (red), Blackberries (black), Carrots (orange) and Spinach (green) are many fruits and vegetables you can use.
A book highly recommended if you want to do it yourself is entitled “‘ How to make your own homemade pet hair from natural foods at home”
Get it from Amazon
Blow pens hair spray and chalk fur are safe products to use. It is non-toxic and washable. If you are creative, this will suit you well. You can blow many colours onto your own designed stencil. The best part is that you can target a specific area to highlight a logo, signage etc and don’t have to do the whole body.
Get it from Amazon.
This post has been a whirlwind of information about the pros and cons of dyeing your dog’s fur. I hope you have found it interesting, compelling and informative. Please feel free to leave a comment or any questions/concerns you may still have. Kindly share this article with friends who might be interested in reading more about canine hair colouration!
- FDA US and Food Drug Administration – Hair Dyes